I have to show you what I was inspired by at the farmer’s market this weekend. Nestled atop a basket of four or five others, this fine specimen was calling out to me. The tag said, “Romanesco.” I plucked one from the bundle and the lady standing next to me asked, “what do you do with romanesco?” I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I don’t know, I just thought it looked cool.” She laughed and said, “yeah, that thing looks like it belongs on the moon. At the very least, you could just place it on your table as an ornament.” I asked the owner of the booth and she said, “Prepare it the same way you would prepare broccoli or cauliflower.” Easy enough. That’s the great thing about picking out your fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market, a. great variety, b. freshness, c. you have an expert that can answer any questions that you may have.
When I saw the romanesco with its perfectly formed conical spheres, I was reminded of the conversations held in my art theory courses in college. Discussing at length the idea of universal beauty. What makes an object pleasing to the senses? Of course, this idea is important to most artists. You want to understand, not only what is pleasing to yourself, but what would be deemed perfect imperfection; sheer natural beauty. This led to two related ideas, the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence. The golden spiral and the Fibonacci spiral which are repeated patterns seen in nature and everyday life has been theorized to be commonly pleasing to the human brain. Not that any of these ideas have ever been conclusively proven, there has been enough studies between the proportions of various items that exhibit these patterns, that it warrants discussion. However, I am not sure if I would be happy or sad, if the inner ticking of our brains could all be boiled down to a mathematical equation.
Anyway, later that day, we stopped by to get my husband’s haircut. My husband’s barber, Nancy, I love her so much. She is a spunky old Vietnamese lady who talks nonstop from the moment you walk in the door. She is constantly trying to feed us and every time we leave, she hands me fruit from her trees. A woman after my own heart! This last time, she gave me an orange and an extraordinarily large lemon. I had to take a picture of it so you could understand. The orange is a large orange, that lemon was the size of a large grapefruit. And so fragrant! Anyway, I had romanesco and an incredibly large lemon to play with, so what did I make?
Parmigiano Roasted Romanesco
1 head romanesco, cut into equal sized pieces
1/2 cup olive oil
3TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp thyme
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place romanesco on a jelly roll pan. In a small bowl mix together olive oil, lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper and thyme. Spoon over the romanesco. Roast for 25 minutes. Flip pieces over. Roast for another 15 minutes. Pull out of oven. When cooled down enough to eat, shave parmigiano over the romanesco. Serve and enjoy!